RESULTS OF HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS AT "ADENA" THE THOMAS WORTHINGTON ESTATE

Craig S. Keener

Professional Archaeological Services Team
Ohio Archaeological Council © 2001

Figure 1
Figure 1
 


In 1807 Thomas Worthington, a prominent early nineteenth century Ohio politician, built a plantation style estate named "Adena" in Ohio, just north of the city of Chillicothe. In 1999 Professional Archaeological Services Team (PAST) conducted an archaeological mitigation of an area south of the estate's smokehouse. The goal of the excavation was to fully uncover and interpret a sandstone rubble foundation and its accompanying artifact assemblage. The resulting work located a 42 feet by 60 feet post and rubble foundation, a two seat privy, a sandstone lined well, 114 features, and 58,914 artifacts (Figure 1). The presentation provided details on how the archaeological findings and interpretations have changed the perception of how the landscape west of the house was utilized (Hitch and Keener 2000; Keener and Faber 2000). The large foundation appears to represent a stable/storage facility that was a significant component of servant activities occurring in the vicinity. The analysis of the depositional patterning of a multi-component historic assemblage was successful in identifying various land use patterns that evolved through time. The identification of the stable/storage building, privy, and well denote a bounded space that is typical of servant work areas on plantation style estates in the south (Figure 2)(Kelso 1986, 1997; Vlach 1991, 1993). The work space and its adjacent buildings represent Worthington's endeavor to run a self sufficient estate. In addition to deposits related to the function of the building and yard area, there was evidence of the presence of military personnel. It was known that U.S. Army, State militia, and Historic Indians frequently visited the house in the early 1800's. The excavations were able to discover the first evidence of these visitors. To conclude, Adena exemplifies how archaeology can be used successfully by historians and park management in the interpretation of an historic landscape. Historical archaeology has consistently demonstrated the ability to compliment archival research and test the accuracy of historical assumptions about the past.

Figure 2
Figure 2
 


References Cited

Hitch, N. and C. S. Keener
 2000  Cross-Discipline Yourself: Integration of Archaeology, History, and Architecture - Test Case, Adena State Memorial. Paper presented at the 33rd Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Quebec.

Keener, C. S. and C. E. Faber
 2000  Archaeological Mitigation of the Smokehouse Area at the Adena State Memorial, the Thomas Worthington Estate, Chillicothe, Ohio. Professional Archaeological Services Team, for the Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

Kelso, W.
 1986  The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello: A Wolf by the Ears. Journal of New World Archaeology 6(4): 5-20.

 1997  Archaeology at Monticello. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.

Vlach, J. M.
 1991  Plantation Landscapes of the Antebellum South. In Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South, edited by E. D. C. Campbell, Jr. and K. S. Rice, pp. 21-49. The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond.

 1993   Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.